Humidity

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by JodyJo, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So after reading a few threads, I take it humidity does not matter till lockdown? I am only on my 2nd incubation, the first I only got 5 out of 12 chicks...now I have 36 more in and think I have a bit more smarts about it...

    Still air, temps at 102* (almost constant)....I have candled just a couple, I am on day 7....the ones I checked showed veins...I will wait till tomorrow and do all 36.

    My humidity was in the 20's so I added some water, its much higher now, should I remove the water or leave it be? I don't want to disturb the eggs anymore today.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Humidity does matter during incubation. The egg needs to lose a certain amount of moisture or the chick cannot hatch. If it loses too little moisture the air cell is too small so it can suffocate after internal pip. It just doesn’t have enough air to breathe when it’s switching from living in a liquid environment to breathing air. If they do manage to hatch they are often large and mushy, not real healthy. If they lose too much moisture the membrane around them can shrink and imprison them so they cannot move to hatch.

    The good news is that there is a pretty wide range of humidity that works, but there has to be. There is no one perfect humidity for each and every egg ever laid. Different eggs are different. Some eggs have more porosity than others. Some have thicker whites. This affects how fast they lose moisture. Some eggs are stored longer than others before they go in the incubator. They lose moisture during storage, how much depending on how long they are stored and under what conditions. Eggs stored a bit don’t need to lose as much moisture in the incubator as fresher eggs.

    Another problem in determining the right humidity is that there can be a lot going on inside the incubator. It’s not just about the humidity in the incubator. How high you are above sea level will determine your air pressure. That can have an effect on how much moisture an egg loses. The temperature and moisture content of the air entering the incubator, plus the volume of that air, has an effect on how much moisture the egg loses. Even how your incubator is vented can have an effect. Still air versus forced air has an effect. It’s a darn good thing there is a pretty wide margin of moisture loss that will work. Otherwise out hatch rates would really be consistently lousy.

    I can’t tell you what humidity will work best for you. We all have different answers to that and what works best for me might not work that great for you. What I suggest is to pick a humidity and maintain it as best you can. Then after the hatch open the unhatched eggs and see if you can tell by looking at the unhatched chicks if you think the humidity was too high or too low. There is some trial and error involved.

    Commercial hatcheries that might hatch 1,000,000 chicks a week using incubators that hold 60,000 or even 120,000 eggs each have to go through this trial and error process to get an optimum hatch rate. If they move an incubator to a different part of the same incubation room the best humidity level may change. They examine the unhatched chicks and make adjustments based on what they see.

    Good luck with it. Sometimes there is more art than science in getting a good hatch.
     
  3. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess after what I read about dry incubation, it doesn't really matter till lockdown, then it needs to be high....I'll keep an eye on it...thanks anyway
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m not sure what you mean by dry incubation. For some people it means to never add water during incubation. To others it means keeping the humidity pretty low. I’ve seen 30% used for that before lockdown.

    Depending on the time of year and the background humidity, if I don’t add any water to my incubator the lowest reading I’ve seen is 17%. Other times with no water added I’ve seen the humidity at 35%. Mine is a forced air. Background humidity can make a huge difference in the humidity inside the incubator. Perhaps someone not adding any water where the background humidity is really high all the time might do better than someone with really low background humidity.

    My humidity can vary. I don’t worry about keeping it exactly where I want it. The goal is the total moisture lost during incubation. I try to keep my average where I want it over the entire incubation period. If it is low earlier and higher later, that’s fine with me. Sometimes I run mine with no water added. Sometimes I have two large reservoirs filled, once I had to also fill a third smaller one to get it up to where I wanted it.

    If you try to add no water, keep records of what the humidity is and try to determine the average, then analyze any unhatched eggs. If needed make changes as you see fit based on what you see.
     
  5. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    xs 2. It most certainly matters. Running dry if your bator's humidity is too low can cause too much moisture loss. Dry incubation is not necessarily always completely dry. It is more appropriet to call it "low humidity incubation". If one is unsure what humidity works best for them the best thing they can do is monitor air cells or weigh the eggs to make sure that enough moisture is being lost w/o overdoing it.

    Spring/summer I can run dry and stay 30-40%. In the fall/winter if I were to ever hatch again, which is doubtful after last fall and brooding inside, I'd have to add a sponge with water to hold my humidity at the 30% I prefer otherwise I would be running at 16% and I am not comfortable with anything under 25%.
    On the other hand running too high will cause small air cells due to lack of moisture loss and chicks that "drown" at hatch.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Amy, if you weigh them, when do you weigh them? Just after they are laid or just before they go in the incubator? If they are stored very long before incubation in low humidity, they may have already lost a lot of moisture before incubation starts. I’m just teasing. I know you go for an average and it’s not exactly a precise science, more of getting in the right ballpark. It is a good indication of how it is going. But it shows how imprecise all this can be.

    I know you are in New York and I’m in balmy Arkansas, but I occasionally hatch in the fall and winter, probably will next January/February, and brood outside. There have been times the temperature was below freezing when the chicks came out of the incubator and went in that brooder. You have to have pretty reliable electricity (I have a generator just in case) and you have to build your brooder so one area can be kept warm but the rest can cool down so you can handle outside temperature fluctuations. They will self-regulate if given a chance, even fresh out of the incubator. But you have to keep one area warm.

    I want to stay married. I’d never try to brood in the house. I totally understand that part.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  7. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ok, by dry, I am referring to a very long article I read by someone who has hatched out 10's of thousands of eggs...I did add water as I live in a high desert anyway...I think it is too high right now, and may remove some.

    I just candled, my first time, removed 3 eggs of the 36, they had no air sac, were not fertile...the rest show signs of air sacs and veining.

    This is only my 2nd time doing this...I believe my first time I was too low, as some of the membranes glued themselves to the chicks...there was bleeding...I got 5 out of the 12 eggs I had.

    I guess there is no real guide then...lol...I'll lower it down for a week or so and see how it goes...what do I look for if its too high or low? I don't have a scale to weigh them.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I know it is frustrating and I’m not helping a lot. There is another way to check humidity effects. You can candle and see how much the air cell is growing. There are charts that show at certain key dates about how much the air cell should have grown. It’s a rough measurement but at least a guideline.

    I’ll look for it.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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  10. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Scales can be had for cheap, it's a great investment not only for measuring incubation weight lose but for measuring the chicks as well to make sure they are thriving for the first few weeks...

    I used to monitor humidity regularly, but I no longer do as I find it unreliable and an inconsistent method unless by trial and error you find the sweet spot for your incubator and location... Instead I weigh the eggs and candle them to ensure proper air cell development as that is simply the best way to do it...

    In general in most locations you can do a 'dry' type incubation and simply raise the humidity during lock down to avoid shrink wrapping, I personally don't do a lock down...

    If you don't wan to invest in a scale, my best advise is to keep a lot of notes, take humidity measurements 2 or 3 times a day and log them along with air cell development as observed by candling, if you get a good hatch rate try to replicate what you logged, if not tweak humidity levels and try again...
     
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